Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by wine. 🙋♀️
The world of wine is often perceived as difficult and snobbish (despite the fact that many educators and bloggers are determined to turn that around). This leads to numerous misconceptions and an overall confusion about how to best enjoy wine. The short answer? Drink what you like, when you like, how you like! Truthfully, there are no rules!
But in case you’re looking for a better answer than that, here are 6 myths about wine that we need to stop, today and can immediately improve your wine drinking:
The Myth: Sweet wines are for noobs
The Truth: Sweet wine is often the entryway into sipping wine. From overly sugary, discount Moscato to fruity wine chillers with juice added, sweet wine is an easy way to whet your palette and develop your appetite for wine. Perhaps this is why sweet wine gets a bad rap as wine lovers move onto more “advanced” bottles.
But the truth is, some of the most expressive, interesting, and complex wines in the world are sweet dessert wines. Regions such as Sauternes, Tokaji, and the Douro Valley all command respect (and high price tags to match!) These wines are sweet, but balanced, with a crisp acidity that makes the sugar manageable and part of the enjoyment. Dessert wines can be paired with all sorts of foods,such as blue cheese, dried fruit, even spicy dishes. Check out wines from these regions -- they’re sure to blow your mind and make you reconsider this belief.
The Myth: Wine from a box is garbage
The Truth: Boxed wine has a reputation for college frat houses and sorority parties. But don’t let that fool you -- some outstanding producers are now crafting wine in boxes, citing their reduced carbon footprint, cheaper shipping costs, and freshness as reasons to change up the packaging. Do your research before purchasing, but some top brands for great boxed wine are out there, including Black Box.
Canned wine is another trend that’s making the rounds, but can stand up to the heat. While there are plenty of low-budget options out there, many quality producers are now beginning to package their wine in cans. Cans are easier to ship, more environmentally friendly, and make it easier to sip wine on the go. Perfect for picnics, hikes, beach days, or when you want to indulge without opening a whole bottle, canned wine is here to stay. Check out Just Enough Wines and Maker.
The Myth: All Sparkling Wine is “Champagne”
The Truth: As a wine nerd, this one is more of a pet peeve, but fixing it in your vernacular will make you look instantly more educated about wine. For a wine to be classified as “Champagne”, it must be produced in the Champagne region of France. This means that if your bottle of bubbly is from California, Italy, or anywhere else, it’s not Champagne. You can refer to it as “bubbly” or “sparkling wine”, but technically and legally speaking, it cannot be called Champagne. Protected by an agreement known as the Madrid System, Champagne must be crafted in its namesake region and held to specific production standards.
While we’re on the subject of Champagne, I’ve got another myth to bust for you…
The Myth: Sparkling wine should be served in flutes
The Truth: As luxurious and fun as Champagne flutes or coupes can feel, they’re actually not the best serving vessel for serving your bubbly. In order to maximize flavors and aromas, you should serve sparkling wine in regular white wine glasses. Sparkling wine, especially Champagne, can be incredibly complex and tedious to make, and has a beautiful range of aromas, such as green apples, golden pears, buttery toast, white cherries, toasted almonds… my mouth drools just thinking about it! If you want to swirl and sniff your wine properly, you need more space to do so, and more space to allow the wine to open up.
Learn more about sparkling wine here, in the Complete Guide to Sparkling Wine.
The Myth: The Sulfites in red wine gives people headaches
The Truth: This myth has multiple myths wrapped into one. The first misconception? That red wines have more sulfites than white. This is actually false: sulfites are used on wine to preserve freshness, and white wines require more. This is because red wines contain tannins, which act as natural antioxidants and preserve the red wine without the addition of sulfur dioxide. So, if sulfites were the reason people get headaches from wines, white wines would be more culpable than whites.
The reality, of course, is that sulfites are not the cause of wine headaches at all. There are numerous compounds in wine, such as histamines and tannins that are more likely connected to the headache effect (not to mention alcohol!). Only 1% of the population is actually medically sensitive to sulfites. For the rest of us, our wine-induced headache most likely comes from dehydration. Drink wine in moderation, and chug some water, friend.
The Myth: Drink your white ice cold, drink your reds room temp
The Truth: Most people drink their whites way too cold and their reds way too warm! Serving temperature matters because it helps wines achieve their maximum expression. (If you don’t believe me, think about soup… it’s not the same served ice cold vs room temp vs warmed! And neither is your wine).
To get your wines to the ideal serving temperature, place your white wines in the fridge well in advance of drinking, then pull it out and stick on the counter just 30 minutes before serving. This helps it warm to its perfect temp. Conversely, you’ll want to do the opposite with your reds: 30 minutes prior to when you want to pop the bottle open, stick it in the fridge for just a bit. This will bring it down to its ideal temperature.
Wondering where the “room temp” myth came from? When this recommendation was first made, the room in question was in Western Europe 100 years ago; the average room temperature then was 60 degrees. Today? The average household is kept at 72 degrees. When a red is too warm, it sends up a steamy blast of alcohol, and the fruit gets lost. Not very enjoyable! A too-cold white will descend to its ideal temperature soon enough, but a too-warm red will never realize its full potential — what it might have been with a little chill on it.
Using this technique of thinking of your wine just 30 minutes out, you’ll find the wine will be just about right by the time they hit your glass without having to overthink it.
Well, friends, while there are numerous other wine myths out there, we’ve reached the end of our list for today. If you’re looking to learn more about wine and improve your knowledge, check out the online course 7 Days to Wine Confidence, or this article on 3 Easy Ways to Learn More About Wine.